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Showing posts from December, 2018

Transforming the Early Education Workforce

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After recently supporting the production of Transforming the Early Childhood Workforce: A Call to Action for the State of Illinois, the McCormick Foundation’s Education team is now working in coordination with Cathy Main from the University of Illinois at Chicago and the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development to communicate the report recommendations to the broader early childhood community. We will be hosting conversations around the state to get stakeholder feedback, and will be coordinating with other workforce initiatives to create a statewide action plan aimed to improve quality and increase compensation for early childhood educators.

VA Delays Paying GI Benefits to Student Vets

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This fall, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) left thousands of veterans and military families using the GI Bill waiting longer than normal for their tuition payments and housing stipends. These delays left many veteran students own their own to find alternative ways to cover their rent and other living expenses, in addition to sometimes facing penalties from their schools. This goes against the original goal of the Bill, signed into law in 1944, “to provide immediate rewards for World War II veterans including making low-interest mortgages available and granting stipends covering tuition and expenses for veterans attending college or trade schools.” Much has changed since the initial passage of the law.Understanding the new challenges facing post-9/11 veterans, Congress amended the bill in 2008 to greatly expand the benefits offered through the bill including a housing allowance, book stipend, and other additional benefits. But, like with most things, the ticker tape parades ende…

#CivicsIsBack in Illinois Schools

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On August 21, 2015, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed bipartisan legislation requiring high school students to successfully complete a semester of civics prior to graduation. The law took effect at the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year, but the McCormick Foundation’s leadership and support of course implementation efforts began upon passage.The absence of state funding for implementation necessitated the commitment of private dollars. The McCormick Foundation has long invested in school-based civic learning and rallied the local philanthropic sector to raise an additional $1 million for implementation annually over three years to underwrite the #CivicsIsBack Campaign. Funding partners include Allstate, Boeing Corporation, Chicago Community Trust, Crown Family Philanthropies, Joyce Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, and Spencer Foundation.Teacher professional development is central to the #CivicsIsBack Campaign given the new course requirement and the proven civic learning prac…

Engaged Grantmaking: Collaborating with Communities

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More funders are finding ways to promote the voice and leadership of the communities they partner with and serve by engaging them in the grantmaking process. This process, often referred to as participatory grantmaking, helps shifts the traditional power imbalances that exist in philanthropy by engaging the grantees who are affected by the issues that funding is addressing in the decision-making process for grants. For some foundations, this means including grantees in the process for setting priorities, developing strategies, conducting research, and sitting on boards or advisory councils. While others are using various elements of participatory grantmaking approach based on what their institutions, polices, and structures will allow. At the core of this practice is understanding that those closest to the issue, including those with lived experience, have the knowledge the solve the challenges. In the last year, the McCormick Foundation’s Communities Program embarked on its own j…

A Garden Colonel McCormick Would Have Loved

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When military veterans gather at Cantigny it’s usually in or outside the newly renovated First Division Museum, a monument to those who served. But during the growing season you’ll now find some veterans behind the park’s massive greenhouse as well.They come to learn, and they come to grow. It’s mostly about vegetables, but also camaraderie and mutual support. Welcome to the Veterans Garden at Cantigny, located between the greenhouse and Roosevelt Road. Established in 2016, regular visitors would never know it’s there. The garden is a fenced-in series of circular raised beds, or “pods,” where local veterans from various eras—usually about a dozen—spend Saturday mornings getting their hands dirty and sharing stories about their service time or anything else that comes up. This is social gardening at its best. Along the way, the vets produce some mighty fine tomatoes, peppers, squash, carrots, beans, beets and zucchini.To be sure, it’s not beginners luck. The green-thumb wannabees are g…